The best companies are dedicated to their customers and build their processes using the customer’s experience as the primary gauge of success. These are what I call “customer-centric” organizations. Great customer-centric companies that have earned my loyalty are Zappos, Nordstrom’s, American Express, and Virgin America.
What makes company customer-centric?
Here’s a perfect example. I recently exchanged a pair of shoes (twice) that I had purchased at Zappos. I had seen the “Delivering Happiness” tagline and the book by the same name by CEO Tone Hsieh (*sigh*). When I indicated I wanted to exchange the shoes a “Customer Happiness Rep” immediately contacted me and walked me through the process. The entire process, which took less than 4 minutes, was designed around making my life easier, and I could feel it. Within 2 minutes of jibing my customer-happiness rep for her “drinking the corporate Kool-Aid” job title, I was convinced that the customer-centric approach actually made a gigantic difference.
Why is Zappos so successful? Because they allowed me to shop when I wanted to, when I wanted to, how I wanted to, and hassle-free.
IT has changed
Now think about the IT organization. IT has done everything it could to meet employees’ needs. But over the years, the process has become bureaucratic and inefficient. At the same time, the employees needed IT to be more responsive so they could be more productive, innovate at a faster rate, and drive the business forward.
Today, with the advent of the cloud, employees are no longer dependent on IT. Employees can go around IT and sign up for IT services directly with nothing more than an email address and credit card number. According to stats by GigaOm, this is happening on a epic scale, with 90% of IT purchasing projected to occur outside of IT by 2020.
The problem with this is three-fold:
- Silos: Employees are good at selecting services for themselves, but individuality creates collaboration barriers (i.e. collaboration is difficult if everyone is using a different platform/service)
- Cost: Individual adoption and purchasing creates unnecessary costs (i.e. enterprise licenses are much less expensive than the sum of all individual or team licenses)
- Risk: If IT is no longer involved in directing and maintaining IT resources, the business looses control of its data and security, compliance, and governance become impossible.
The growing user-centric IT movement
Leading IT organizations around the world have realized this and are driving a strong “customer-centric” mentality into their businesses. This movement has been dubbed “User-Centric IT.” The result is not only a happier and more productive work force, but also alignment of the IT policy with a company’s security, compliance and governance policies. Ultimately, User-Centric IT management improves employee collaboration, reduces costs from redundant services, and reduces risks.
So how do you become a User-Centric IT organization? Here are 5 areas to consider:
- Serve the business by empowering people
- Adapt to the way people work, not the other way around
- Enable people, information and knowledge to connect in real time
- View mobility as a work-style preference, not a device
- Make security inherent and transparent to the user experience